January 30, 2012

What Part Of No...?

Sixty-two rejection letters sent out so far for issue 4 of Thrice. There are three works on the "maybe" pile, and ten yet to be read. All-in-all I expect we hit one hundred submissions easy before this is over.

It's not hard to write rejection notes. Sometimes, if the person is obviously sending their material to the wrong place, you can get away with a form letter. People should read the magazine before they submit so they may get an idea as to what we're doing. In truth, however, maybe the first three issues didn't have the complete vision in place yet; so I can't fault people too harshly for what may be my incomplete idea from before. But other times I find myself writing a more personal note. "You lost sight of what tense you're in", or "I was hooked but when it was over I wasn't sure I wanted to be." I try very hard to be constructive. I have kept every rejection letter I have ever gotten (I think) and have them in a box. Anyway... somewhere. So I don't say what some have said in my rejections. There's no need to be a jerk and, to be honest, most people aren't. Even a form rejection can be written with some measure of respect for the trying. I ran into a lot of angry young editors, mad at the world, in the past. I refuse to be one of those. Look out at you from my picture as if I hate you and everybody you know, sucking on a cigarette. No thanks.

But it is a two-way street. Writers can be pips just the same. I got one answer from a rejection almost demanding a detailed explanation as to why what they sent didn't work. I mean, my God, they had an appropriately quirky bio already contained in their cover letter and they seem a little out there, so why on Earth didn't you use my story? That kind of thing. Also "what did you mean when you said...?" Yikes. No, I do not answer letters or emails like that. Two or three submitters have sent something else on the heels of their rejection notes. One has done this twice, giving me three stories to nix. Some people are close. Some people will never get it.

Here's the deal - I want there to be nothing in Thrice except stuff I CAN'T WAIT for you to read. You. You, sitting there reading this right now. I want to look at something and say "This is great, I HAVE to show this to ___." And so far every piece, from some of the more traditional to some that are almost impossible to describe, fits that requirement.

No matter what you do, there are going to be people who don't like it. That's life. And I send rejection letters off knowing that some people will be pissed, some will take it in stride, and others may generate a small crisis for themselves. But something happened over the weekend that made this all superfluous. There have also been people who have questioned what we've put in Thrice. "Disappointed with the fiction," I recall being told at one point. And it's important what people think, because we're putting out an entry into the public media. So it's hard not to look back and ask yourself "what could I have done better?" It's only natural. But, as I said, something happened this weekend that made even this less important.

I'm having a service build me a website. A .com for myself. And I spent some time preparing some background information for them to add to it. While doing this, making a bibliography of my stuff and all that, I also made a list of some of the people who I published in the first zine I had in the early 90s. I published. That's the operative term. It was my call to put them in, amid all the other submissions I chose these people. My people. My picks. And when I looked at the list I realized that it hasn't all been a secret world of my own making, or a mystery achievement nobody knows of. I'm very proud - exceedingly proud - of the voices I picked for the Fiction Review. And we're doing it again. Only this time I have Dave2 as a co-creator, co-founder, and also the adult in the room. :-)

None of these people are great big honking names like Stephen King and all that. 99% of published writers still need to keep their day jobs. That's just how it is. You don't quit your job to "become a writer." You're cursed with it. But what they have done is had actual follow-up careers. They were for real, and I saw it coming. Me, over here. And some of the people who were already somewhat established sent stuff in on their own volition. I asked no one to help.

So the #4 issue of Thrice Fiction is a month or so away. And every last word in it is going to be pretty good. After all, I have a track record of finding people who seem to make something out of their disease.

Here's some folks who made it into the first magazine I did. Some were just getting started, others were established in a small circle and were starting to expand their audiences. I think it's a pretty good group. You should check them out.

Just a few Fiction Review alums...

Thomas Wiloch
Richard Kostelanetz
Paulette Roeske
Hugh Fox
Gorman Bechard (he has the story "A Pretty Girl" which first appeared in the Fiction Review, on his website.
William P. Haynes (aka Elliot)
Sheila E. Murphy
Jack Foley
Lorri Jackson (also pictured on the right side of the title banner above)

Plus there's Charlize Theron up there. So there is that.

January 27, 2012


Speaker Gingrich was never a favorite of the Republican brain trust. Since his surge in South Carolina we are seeing a steady drumbeat by the conservative media against him. He bullied too many of his allies and simply alienated the rest.

Now, the majority of Americans aren't even paying a minute's worth of attention to the campaign so far. The only people busy are the true believers and the morbidly interested. But as soon as the electorate gets wind of Gingrich's operational double standard, should he be the GOP nominee, he's going to be buried.

It isn't that he cheated on two wives and has the potential to be going into the White House with one of his mistresses. He could be forgiven, in the modern American mind, for that and divorces and all the rest. That's not the problem.

What's going to strike him dead in the water is when people put 2 and 2 together; specifically that precious moment in history when, because of the Monica Lewinsky debacle, Gingrich publicly said that President Clinton "no longer has the moral authority to lead." - - - After which he went off to his weekend hideaway with the woman he was cheating on his wife with.

You've got to be kidding me. Once people clamp down on that there's no hope for him. As it is the Republican leadership (that unseen blob of state party chairmen and influence holders that actually run the party and wish the Tea Party would dry up and go away) hate him. And the machinery to defuse his candidacy is already starting to churn.

Governor Romney will be hoisted on his own petard. Americans may have been ready to elect a black President, but a goofy Mormon in magic underwear they are not ready for. And all it will take is for the Democrats to simply publish a list of all the things he's changed his views on depending on the circumstances and the temperature. He's practically Obama-lite. Even if he does gain the nomination, and even if by some miracle he does win the election in November, people who like President Obama won't have to worry; they'll be getting the same M.O. and nothing upsetting will happen to their liberal fantasy.

Congressman Paul doesn't stand a canary's chance in a hell full of cats. Why he's even bothering is beyond anybody with half a brain at this point. It's one thing to be a libertarian (a fanciful, important-sounding philosophical apology for what basically amounts to the social economics of Ebenezer Scrooge that often appeals to people who have more education than is probably good for their limited brain capacities), but it is quite another thing to say you are a libertarian, and then pander to the trailer park rank and file by negating long-standing and legitimate libertarian views on immigration, for example. He is not only ridiculous, there's a good chance he's a quack.

Senator Santorum, rounding out the remains of the day that is the Republican field, is - to put a bow on it - categorically unelectable. He would carry South Carolina if the GOP standard bearer, because almost everybody in South Carolina is a nut job. If it weren't for the transplanted people from other places than South Carolina you could still make a case for having James Pettigru's famous take on the place as the official state motto. There isn't even any point in discussing Senator Santorum's chances, pathetic an d narrowly-based as they are. He would simply be destroyed in a general election.

Which all leads me to the conclusion that somewhere along the way the powers that be in the GOP took a look at President Obama's campaign war chest on one hand, and the nutbag Tea Party on the other hand, and said "screw you guys, we're staying home." They'll save their money for when the election is between two new names, hoping that the Tea Party will go back into the Ross Perot hole it crawled out of by then.

It's the only thing I can figure right now.

January 24, 2012

Love Me I'm A Liberal

Last night on PBS they ran a new American Masters program on Phil Ochs (you can watch the trailer at the site).I'm pretty certain most folks under 50 won't know about him, any more than they knew what it was really like during the Viet Nam War era - seeing as how there's just so much ignorance and outright revisionism about that time going on. And as for his songs they are probably even more forgotten by what passes for collective memory any more. If you get a chance to see it in rerun go ahead and see what you think. I was sort of reminded about a lot of things I forgot.

Probably two of his most remembered songs are "There But For Fortune" and "I Ain't Marching Anymore." (I must have killed a million men and now they want me back again but I ain't marchin' anymore.").

Anyhow, if you could say that Bob Dylan wrote protest ballads, it would be Ochs who did the anthems. And there's an argument to be made that Dylan didn't really do much beyond a few iconic things that were more or less co-opted by the Left. Ochs organized civil actions in between songs, and was the only performer who came to the Democratic Convention in 68 to perform when all the other acts begged off because it was looking too dangerous.

Phil was not a liberal. He was an unabashed radical. He felt the same way about liberals as, say, Rush Limbaugh feels about them - only from the other direction. I'd forgotten this song, which I shouldn't have; because I do recall being suspicious of liberals when I was sporting the black flag to school every day. I'd forgotten, in my dotage, where that had come from.

This song was the one I liked best.

Ochs succumbed to manic depression and committed suicide in the 70's. In the documentary Billy Bragg does a magnificent rendition of "I Dreamed I Saw Phil Ochs Last Night," a take-off on the song about Joe Hill, and he's in perfect voice with it too.

A person is supposed to be a radical in their youth and grow more conservative as they age. I'm trying my best to do the opposite because nowadays it seems to be the other way around. I get so sad looking at all these young people trying to act like libertarians. Kinda makes me ill thinking I may have somehow helped in some small way to promote that ridiculous, unworkable philosophy.

It was good to see some of the old faces from those times. Abbie Hoffman, Jerry Rubin, Pete Seeger, and a host of other old activists and roustabouts. You might like them, even if your a freaking Tea Party apologist because none of these people were liberals either.

We need to sing this song again.

Oh look! It's Charlize Theron!

January 23, 2012

Another Musical Interlude

Here's a musical interlude but really? Best listened to at 2 in the morning. Not while it's light out so come back later. Seriously.

Oh look! It's Charlize Theron! Son of a gun what's she doing here??

January 16, 2012

Good News Week!

Winning $30 on a football pool square game and having the Packers lose at the same time is kind of like waking up with Charlize Theron waiting to serve you breakfast... something that normally wouldn't happen even in a million years but there it is anyway somehow.

I hate to say it but I've been unfaithful. For years and years I idolized Sophie Marceau as my default female starlet icon, but just as sure as I've noticed a seismic shift in my general political outlook I have also noticed that I have become just as equally a female starlet icon slut as well. I guess some people get on one political ideal and one female starlet icon and just ride that bus all the way to the barricade at the edge of the cliff but me... I'm different. I've gone practically full circle now both in my politics and in my selection for female starlet icon.

I started out as an anarchist, wended my way through libertarianism, fell in line with the Old Cause (mostly based on the ideas and outlook of the Republican from Ohio known as Robert Taft), and had my share of run-ins with the school of conservatism known as neocons (who to this day remain nothing more than foreign interventionists with the social politics of Ebenezer Scrooge) who viewed Taft as a monster, somehow. This opened my eyes to conservatives in general and I came to believe that there is no more nobler an ideal than to line every one of them up against a wall and shoot them through the head as soon as possible, yesterday, if only to keep that kind of selfish, whining, pushy, self-righteous, double-talking, hypocrisy out of the gene pool. Nowadays, as a Quaker, I'm not for the shooting them part as much. And lo and behold... I'm a damn anarchist again.

So maybe one day I'll come back to Sophie Marceau as well, but for now I am content in the idea that I am a shape changing, disloyal gadabout who can't be trusted with anything.

Except I still don't like the Packers, or for that matter anybody who does like the Packers. And winning $30 on a football square this past Sunday while watching them flounder around in futility against the big bad New York team from that big bad liberal media center is something that probably would have been fun even when I was an old school conservative. So I guess there are some constants in my life.

Sophie darling, you're a doll. But it's 2012. We need to move on, I'm afraid. The more things change, the more things change.

Hiya Charlize. I think I'd like my orange juice nice and cold.

January 14, 2012

The Truth

And so the soulless American political season marches on. I'm over it, how 'bout you? Ron Paul, that great libertarian fraud. Newt Gingrich, the crabby professor. Rick Santorum, the guy we need at the head of the GOP ticket so we can expose the true ugly nature of conservatives in this country once and for fucking all. And a President who can't wait to get millions for his memoirs if he can just skate through the next four years.

I'm over Our Fundamental American Principles - whatever the fuck they are. Oh yeah; hard work, big cars, faith, family, Cocoa Puffs, porn sites and football. I forgot. Plus the right to remain silent in a court of law. And the rising ability of the federal government to pry into your shit. Plus big pants down by your ass and the careful study of Intelligent Design in full knowledge that Gawd created America in the image of heaven or some shit like that. Germany as part of the Axis of Evil. France full of accordions. What's the currency of the United Kingdom...? What's the United Kingdom I never heard of that... Palestine? What's the main religion of people from Israel? Easy... Israeli. What are you, a stupid moran?

I once had a person tell me that kangaroos made it on the Ark because the land masses were all one clump back then. You know, the Pangaea thing. Then they went to their Catholic church where the wafer turns into the actual, no-doubt-about-it body of Christ but we have the gluten-free Jesus too, if you ask for it. Just in case.

I had another person tell me once that since they have to take a drug test to work in a damn grocery store then people who get welfare should have to take a drug test before they get their money from the state. Of course the answer is nobody should have to take a drug test for these things but never mind that - we believe in the Constitution. Like the great "libertarian" Ron Paul who says "Our leaders betrayed the middle class which is forced to compete with welfare-receiving illegal immigrants who will work for almost anything..." - summarily trashing any real libertarian ideal about immigration, pandering to the xenophobes, saying that immigrants get welfare and jobs the middle class deserves. We know our audience. Ron Paul the True Believer. More like horseshit on a stick.

I'm pretty convinced most Americans don't have a conscience. That old saying - "the Bible is like a human, you can get it to say anything you want if you torture it enough." And that tortured collection of fables, tricks, puzzles and games-for kids has been tortured to read God Bless America. The first empire that will never collapse. Stupid Rome. Dumb Pharaohs. Idiotic Brits. What the hell did they know? It's all in the socks-and-sandals and K-Y jelly. They didn't have socks-and-sandals and K-Y jelly. Of COURSE all those old empires failed. Did Alexander have the NFL? Did he? Huh? Did he have Harleys? No he did not. End of argument. We got American Idol and we rule the fucking world. Ha ha haaa. (win!)

How many times will you go back to the polls because it's your American duty to all those busted veterans and dead guys strewn over hundreds of foreign fields put there to protect motherhood, Old Glory and the right to create insurance derivatives? How long will it take you to get dressed to come out of your trailer park long enough to go vote for the party of business owners who would just as soon keep your wages the same from now until forever and send your sons to die in places nobody can even point to on the map? And how did you get into that mindset in the first place? Pay me shit, take my sons, and I will vote for your right to use venture capitalism to inflate the incomes of six guys on your board of directors. Forget Mitt Romney's magic underwear, he's a capitalist. That's all you need to know.

We had to bail out Wall Street and the banks, which were run into the ground with trick, unsound derivatives foolishly created by business leaders trained and educated in all the best schools, and that just proves that what we need in the White House is a business leader trained and educated in all the best schools. It's logical. Do the math. Drain a beer can and do the math. Sheh... stupid liberals don't understand anything.

Okay so South Carolina is next. We need to find that one conservative super hero because Mitt Romney is a moderate and you know - those Mormons want to take over the world (they're like a bunch of damn Freemasons). But for some reason we just can't find the Perfect One. Compromise is a dirty word. Reagan never raised taxes. Eisenhower never warned us about the military industrial complex. That's where the jobs come from. What, are you nuts>

I gotta go pray now. Pray anybody who wishes us ill gets smitten by a drone. Piss on 'em. We'll show them the bastards.

God bless fucking America and all the wonderful Americans in it too.

January 09, 2012

Musical Interlude

Like it because it reminds me of stuff from the old pre-FM AM radio days of yore, but still has an up to date sensibility. Makes an old geezer feel like... I dunno... summer on the radio again.

We'll be back with words and words and words and more words in a bit. For now, just go...

January 04, 2012


...I'm not sure if holding down a regular job all the time has been good or bad for my publication record - or lack of one. On the one hand it keeps me grounded in real life, hones people watching and - more importantly - people listening skills. But on the other hand it has chewed up a shit-ton of my time I could have otherwise used following my goals. Oh well. Buying another lottery ticket this Saturday, you can be sure.

Sent out the first large batch of rejection notices for Thrice #4. I have developed quite a huge slush pile or back logged stuff to read. Somebody asked me what I'm reading lately. I answered "a lot of bad fiction."

I think it's funny when I point people to Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of writing, then someone sends me a story they wrote and in the cover letter the writer explains that it was my pointing to Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules that led them to submit to Thrice, and then they proceed to break every one of the god damn rules - meticulously - before I can get to the third page.

I FINALLY got my own copy of the Chicago Manual of Style. Yes I know it is something that, as a writer, I should have had thirty years ago (and the fact is that having it at work-side is more liberating than restricting, seriously). But it was always so expensive. $65 and I just could never justify plunging. Well I got a $50 gift card from work this Christmas and put it all out there for the manual, so that I ended up shelling out only $15. This is OK.

It's a pedant's dream. So don't give me any of your punctuation/grammar guff from here on out. I've got the Gold Standard eight inches from my elbow.

But, seriously, just thumbing through it makes me realize it is not actually something that bottles up and restricts creativity as some have suggested. It is written in such a broad, accessible way, and is so eager to point out antiquated practices in writing that tend to stifle common sense that I am quite surprised. Where have you been all my life?

When all is said and done, I've been somewhat embarrassed by some of the editing faux pas I am responsible for in past issues of Thrice. This will be corrected. Nobody to blame but myself.

You'd think I'd apply what I have learned from the Manual to blog posts, wouldn't you? Yeah... um. Sure! Just look in your Google Reader how many times I posted this entry. I'm never happy...

January 01, 2012

2012 Starts

* New Year's Eve started off with the mail, and in it came a check after the sale of MrsRW's stepfather's property in Tennessee. There is a little more coming from the sale of the possessions that were auctioned off but this constitutes probably the last time we get the benefit of a year-end windfall, so we better make the most of it. Back when I was doing national sales and the building market was booming I would usually get year-end bonus checks from 20-30 G and even though I studied hard on how to put that to work for us the plans worked out but never went as well as they could have. We'd wind up having to fix the house - roofs, driveways, siding, the whole bit. And all that sort of took a lot of the steam away from the boon. This time, possibly the last time, we need to work seriously on reducing debt to make every month even more stress-less. We think we have a good plan. But this is the kind of thing I don't understand a lot of "modern couples" doing these days - keeping the money separate. Like, one of them gets a bonus check and that money is THEIRS and the other one's paycheck pays THEIR bills and so on. I guess MrsRW and I grew up in an old fashioned world because we have never done anything but bring all the goods back to the communal nest. Anyway that was deposited on Dec 31 and so there are good expectations, financially, for 2012.

* That in no way is meant to say everything is hunky-dory around here. We still have a major family issue to handle this year and it's close and rather heartbreaking so far. Not something to expound on yet - if ever - but it couldn't be more hurtful. So to be honest the wonderful windfall is really in perspective around here. There are more important things than money, and sometimes they're all screwed up.

* Last night for the first time in I - don't - know - God - how - long MrsRW and I had a New Year's Eve to ourselves. No babysitting (the newest granddaughter is still breastfeeding so that crew didn't go anywhere) and our best friends were out of state visiting family. So I did an old fashioned morning jaunt to a couple of markets and came back home with some steaks from an honest-to-goodness butcher shop like from the old days in the neighborhood, and side dishes from a green grocers'. We got some Veuve Clicquot (the bottle of champagne cost more than the steaks and dinner fixings, can you imagine?) and stayed home with a couple of movies off the cable, and I want to tell you - if you haven't seen these two you need to.

Have I ever steered you wrong on movies?

The first one we watched was called The Help. Notable for a young female cast, sprinkled with small and important roles played by Cicely Tyson, Sissy Spacek and Allison Janney (West Wing). It was absolutely great. How come I NEVER heard of this movie when it came out?

The last one - which we stopped at one point so we could have a midnight smooch - was just as enjoyable though for a different reason. Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris (I keep hearing people say it is his "best ever" and I don't know if that's exactly right, but it SURE is a winner regardless) had MrsRW saying numerous times that this was a movie meant for me. It involved a writer visiting Paris who, at the stroke of midnight, goes back in time in Paris where he meets Hemingway, the Fitzgeralds, Picasso, Dali, Luis Bunuel, Man Ray, Gertrude Stein, and an enchanting young woman he falls in love with. The two subplots - his rather poorly conceived upcoming marriage to a woman who is cheating on him with a total pedant and the fascinating young lady from the past who turns out to be equally enamored with the even FURTHER past - totally make this flick. Seriously. If you haven't, you ought to. If nothing else it's notable that the whole thing was filmed in Paris and leave us not forget to mention just how beautiful that place is. sigh

* So, typical of me I guess, I see all these movies late in the game and probably long after y'all have seen them already. I'm a putz, what can I say?

* There are a couple of other things to talk about, one being an actual resolution I'm making for myself this year (yeah sometimes I do that, when it's really important like when I quit smoking cigarettes or lost 20 pounds) but this is already long enough and I'm not sure it's even interesting to anybody but me so I'll skip that.

* It's enough to tell you that I am putting my entire reputation on the line for the stuff upcoming in issue #4 of Thrice. I am telling you now - it's going to be the best ever and the writers we're collecting will seriously blow your mind. There's no theme to it this time, except my one guiding principle will be "it has to be something I CAN'T WAIT to show my friends what we discovered." I am frankly head-over-heels about it and there's just only two accepted stories in it so far. But 50 submissions! I guess we got people's attention. So I'm going to be spending much of January reading bad fiction and trying to come up with polite rejection letters; but the stuff that we're taking is going to absolutely blow your mind. I mean it.

All 4 now. Anyway... here we go....